Traditionally, as your insurance policy expiration date approaches, your insurance broker(s) will want to schedule sales interviews with you to deliver their quotations. Of course, some may also try the “asleep at the wheel method” of renewal to see if they can get away with it, which is to simply mail you a renewal billing and hope that you pay it without comment or further action on their part. (Don’t let this be you!)
Since, as an insurance buyer, you are destined to experience one or more of these interviews, I would like to offer the following bit of counsel to help minimize your suffering, and save you valuable time. When you follow these procedures, the need for traditional sales interview is largely negated. Furthermore, the farther ahead of policy renewal time these procedures are executed, the easier your renewals will become. When renewals are properly managed, such meetings become more celebrations of a job already well done over the phone, email, and fax machine, rather than a high-pressure last-minute negotiation session.
When a broker calls to announce a quotation is ready for delivery and asks to schedule a meeting, consider the following response in lieu of what you might normally say:
“Great. Thank you. Please (email/fax/mail) me the proposal so I have time to absorb it in preparation for your visit.”
If you make that your standard response, brokers will come to expect you want information transmitted in advance. This single request is very powerful, and goes a long way towards protecting you from manipulative broker sales tactics. It does so because it helps to separate the commodity of insurance policies (the quotes, and their associated quality and pricing factors) from the professional relationship you have with your broker (the meeting, your broker relationship, the servicing of your account, etc.).
Insisting on getting proposals sent to you in advance, and even asking the broker to include an agenda for the meeting, will do you a great deal of good. You will have time to understand your options and prepare your questions. The meetings will be more professional and productive. And, in some case you may even end up canceling a meeting because the proposals sent proved unworthy of further consideration (saving you from wasting your valuable time, or worse – agreeing to a bad deal in a meeting due to the pressure of the moment or a sense of obligation).
It is my strongly held opinion that ultimately, all professional insurance advice should be given, and purchased, separately from the financial commodity that we call insurance. I think that paying for advice via commissions is a dangerously flawed structure, and also represents one of the worst conflicts of interest in existence in the world of business today.
But that, as they say, is a topic for another day…
Don Bury is a nationally recognized expert on negotiating with commercial insurance brokers. He co-authored “The Buyers Guide To Business Insurance” in 1993, and operates Insurance Cost Reduction Services from his home in Arizona.
Don Bury, President
Insurance Cost Reduction Services
3663 Camino Bella Rosa
Sierra Vista, AZ 85650
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